When you fail to show up for a game, it's really difficult to win it.
The Phoenix Suns proved that tonight, allowing the worst team in the Western Conference to come in and dominate the second half with their big men. I'm only kicking myself that I didn't actually predict this loss earlier in the preview. I stopped short, mentioning that Carl Landry (20 and 10) and Jason Thompson (8 and 7) were Suns killers. I wanted to say Samuel Dalembert (18, 15 and 3 blocks) too, but I had too much faith in Marcin Gortat and Robin Lopez to keep him in check. And I wanted to say Donte Green because I remember a big game from him a year ago, but his career numbers against the Suns weren't that hot.
The Suns came out flat. Then they went on a big run in the first quarter, turning a 10-point deficit into a 10-point lead in a matter of a few minutes. Apparently, the Suns thought the game was over at that point.
Carl Landry had other ideas.
Carl Landry was the difference in this game. In the first half, he missed all 7 of his shots but pulled down 7 rebounds to offset that. In the second half, Landry blew up for 20 points and 3 more rebounds. His energy and extra effort single-handedly re-inspired the Kings in the second half.
This coincided with the Suns shooting nothing but jump shots. The Suns took a 10-point first half lead - and kept it till the last second - because they'd worked Landry, Dalembert AND Thompson into 3 fouls apiece. Despite the Suns losing the rebounding battle, I was confident at halftime.
Yet, Landry wasn't forced to commit any more fouls, and Dalembert only incurred 2 more. Dalembert knows how to stay aggressive despite foul trouble, which is not the same as Frye with 5 fouls. Dalembert finished with 18 points (including a critical drive on the dribble FROM THE 3-POINT LINE RIGHT TO THE BASKET), 15 big rebounds and 3 blocks. Frye? Oh yeah, he wasn't in the game tonight. Frye collected 5 fouls of his own and turned into a mouse.
The lowly Kings, sporting the league's 26th ranked offense, scored any time they wanted including 8 of their last 9 possessions (the only "stop" being the breakaway where Gortat tipped away an ill-advised alley-oop).
News flash to the Phoenix Suns: That's not going to get it done.
Don't blame this game on Steve Nash. Thanks to his 22 and 18, he's got EIGHT games this season with at least 20 points and 15 assists. The entire rest of the NBA has THREE. And he's not in the All-Star game. Riiiight.
To a lesser extent, lay the second-least amount of blame on Marcin Gortat. He had 20 points and 12 rebounds - the only Sun who put up a fight on the boards. Yet, he contributed to the Suns giving up 18 offensive rebounds. Overall, the Kings outrebounded the Suns 51-36 tonight. Ugly.
Way to make it harder on yourselves, guys. Woo-hoo.
[Note by Seth Pollack, 02/13/11 9:51 PM MST ]
Phoenix Suns Fall To Sacramento Kings, 113-108 - SB Nation Arizona
Suns centers Marcin Gortat and Channing Frye noted that the Kings were attacking the glass with four and five players while the Suns were left with only one or two battling in the paint.
The Phoenix Suns face the Sacramento Kings tonight, who are on the back end of a back-to-back while the Suns had yesterday off. I saw Hakim Warrick walking the Scottsdale Fashion Square with some buds, while teammate Marcin Gortat went on a date to the new Aniston/Sandler comedy and Steve Nash probably played with his kids.
Is it just me or does it seem like this is a broken record? In fact, it is a broken record after all. Here's an excerpt from some analysis of the Suns' schedule last fall.
But what's even more interesting, and what's missing from previous schedule analysis, is that the Suns will play a league-leading 20 games against opponents on their second game of a back to back while the Suns are rested!
Read more: http://valleyofthesuns.com/2010/11/16/phoenix-suns-leagues-most-favorable-schedule/#ixzz1Drcbn7Li
In the last three games, the Suns have done the B2B tradeoff. Thursday's game against Golden State had the Warriors finishing a B2B, then Friday's game saw the Suns take their turn on the B2B (one of only 16 on the season for the Suns), and now its Sacramento's turn.
A few big questions lead off tonight's game:
1) Will DeMarcus Cousins play? (Update: Cousins definitely out)
2) Will the Suns take the 4th quarter collapse in last game as real incentive to kick some butt tonight?
3) Will Goran Dragic return?
Hit the jump for more...
Will Cousins Play?
Update: Cousins definitely out
Cousins was removed from the team plane last night, and has been told he needs to meet with the GM Geoff Petrie on Monday morning to discuss the altercation in more (face-to-face) detail. Petrie is out of town on a scouting trip, not returning until late Sunday. Several blog-type outlets have reported this as a suspension, but the team itself has not made any announcement at this time.
Frankly, I hope DeMarcus plays. I have no desire to watch yet another team fail to show up mentally for a game against the Suns. We've had two straight opponents fold up their tents early, and a full-strength Kings squad was likely to be a third in a row given poor record, their last-second loss only 20 hours ago, and the Suns' likely desire to right a wrong.
If Cousins doesn't play though, a pair of Suns killers will get more burn than usual. Jason Thompson (14 pts, 6.6 rebs in 28 mins lifetime against Suns), Carl Landry (16.8 and 7.6 - most against any opponent - in 28 mins lifetime against Suns) will get the bulk of the frontcourt minutes. Thomspon has previously been too long for the Suns' frontcourt, and Carl Landry has been an energetic demon off the bench.
So, I really hope Cousins plays. I want the Suns to beat a full squad with a minimum of excuses. And I'd rather the unknown of Cousins than the "known" of getting hurt by Thompson and Landry.
Here's the stats for the 12-38 Kings
Will the Suns play with a vengeance?
I'm not entirely sure the Suns will play to avenge their 4th quarter collapse the last time these teams met. The loss was damaging, but mainly self-inflicted. And it was so "far" ago, so far away from where the team is now, that they may not recognize themselves if they recall the last game in prep for this one.
But I sure HOPE the Suns come out with a purpose and a vengeance. The Kings outrebounded the Suns 60-32 in that game. 60-32. Ouch. I hope Frye, Warrick, Lopez and Gortat take it upon themselves to control those defensive boards. I hope Hill, Carter, Dudley and Pietrus take it upon themselves to box out Casspi and Garcia from offensive rebounds.
If the Suns take care of the boards, they will win this game going away.
Final Question: Will Goran Dragic play?
I know there's a few Zabian Dowdell fans out there. What Zabian has over Goran is self-confidence and the full knowledge of his complete (though limited) skillset. Zabian plays wihtin himself, and has no fear on the court.
But don't forget Goran's many gifts. He is a skilled passer, shooter and defender. His problem is that he doesn't always play under control and doesn't always have his head clearly "in the moment".
Hopefully some time off will do Goran well, especially while he's watched the second unit play very well lately under Dowdell's controlled leadership. I'll take a peaking Goran over a peaking Dowdell any time.
Other links for your pregame pleasure
Suns Attempt To Keep Good Times Rolling - SB Nation AZ
Without Cousins, who dropped 28 points when the Kings beat the Suns in Sacramento in early January, this game will get much easier for the Suns. The Suns have beat the Kings at home 10-straight times.